Farming in a COVID-19 World

By Ryan Kliewer

Uncertainty is common place in the farm world, so the uncertainty of the Covid-19 Pandemic isn’t really new to farmers across the nation. The prior pandemics and food borne phobias of the past have numbed U.S. producers to shockwaves sent through the production, supply, and demand chain. The major difference with the Covid-19 Pandemic is the demand spike for all domestic agriculture products.

With grocery store shelves being cleared nationwide, U.S. farmers and processors have been working around the clock to ramp up production to restock shelves with the trusted food and resource products the United States farmers and ranchers produce every day. Amid labor shortages, the challenges are great.

The Agricultural industry was classed as an essential service by the federal government for obvious reasons. Farmers produce food. Pretty essential……

The irony of the situation is that in Oregon’s Klamath Basin the federal government is curtailing water for irrigation to agriculture and constricting the acres of production in doing so. No water=No Crops=No Food.

Bureau of Reclamation recently informed irrigation districts in the Klamath Project of up to 60% reductions in irrigation water allocations. This means no irrigation water for tens of thousands of acres of fertile American soils and reduced water deliveries for hundreds of thousands of acres in Oregon.  These reductions were announced on April, 1. That is well into the Covid-19 pandemic. Why would the government cut the throats of the American farmer?

Here’s why.

Just the same as the scientific modeling that the government has used to plan for the pandemic, environmental science has been modeling for worst case scenario in the Klamath Basin for decades. These models are what drive biological opinions and dictate stream flows. The problem is that the environmental modeling for nearly three decades has driven the species of protection in the Klamath to brink of extinction.

As in the pandemic, if an early piece of information is incorrect, the model is invalid. Early information in the pandemic models showed minimal spread of one strain of the virus. Government acted accordingly and did nothing. Soon after, it was found there are two and now maybe three strains and that China might not have told the truth about the virus spreading. Government is acting hysterically.

No difference in the Klamath environmental science modeling, except that the assumed facts have not changed.  Every year the Klamath populations of the endangered species worsen and the government acts hysterically and doesn’t change approach.

If you want to see the playbook that the government is going to use for the Covid-19 pandemic, just look to the Endangered Species Act implementations across the U.S. From closing down hundreds of thousands of acres because someone thought they saw a Pileated Woodpecker, to shutting down forests for spotted owls, and shutting off irrigation water to millions of acres of farmland through the years  – meanwhile the protected species are in most cases as close to brink of extinction as they ever were. Given this, one must wonder: Is government competent to face this pandemic?

With the track record of the government  to recover from environmental pandemic, we should all be scared.

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